Matt Ryan: 'I appreciate Arthur Blank support'

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan appreciates comments from team owner Arthur Blank calling for his side to protect him more, but refuses to criticise his teammates.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has said that he appreciates the support he received from team owner Arthur Blank regarding an incident in the opening match of last season.

Blank said earlier this week that he was unhappy with how his team responded to a late hit on Ryan by New Orleans Saints rookie Kenny Vaccaro, suggesting that they didn't do enough to protect the quarterback.

However, while he was happy for the support he received, Ryan refused to criticise his teammates and insisted that he didn't even notice their reaction when the incident took place.

"I understand. I know what [Blank] said. And listen, nobody is more passionate about the Atlanta Falcons and cares more about the Atlanta Falcons than Mr Blank. And as a player, you love to have an owner that is like that. He cares. He's committed. He's willing to do, in my opinion, whatever it takes to win," Ryan told 680 The Fan.

"From a player's perspective, listen, I was trying to breathe. You get the wind knocked out of you, and when you're in that position, when you can't breathe, you stop thinking about all the other crap that's going on out there, and you're just saying, 'All right. Get some oxygen in my lungs.'

"I didn't think twice about it. We got the 15-yard penalty. We're trying to go down and put points on the board. As a player and as a quarterback, you have to be so focused on executing and doing your job. And so for me, I didn't worry too much about it."

Ryan later reiterated his gratitude for Blank's comments, but hinted that he thought his teammates did the right thing in not reacting in a way that may have affected their chances of scoring.

"I understand where Arthur is coming from. I understand that he has his opinion and that's the way that he feels. And I appreciate that from him because he has my back. And I respect that," Ryan added.

"But I also understand, from the player's perspective, how you play the game and Smitty [coach Mike Smith] all the time preaches to us that there's a line and you've got to play on that line, but not over the line. And you've got to play smart.

"In that situation specifically, a penalty or something like that when we're in the red zone, we're going down to score points, that can change the outcome of the game. I understand where Arthur is coming from. I appreciate it because he does have my back. And I love that about him. But for me, it's not something that I'm losing sleep about this time of the year."

Vaccaro was later fined for the late hit, but the Falcons went on to lose the match 23-17.

Owner Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons looks on following a 17-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints in a game at the Georgia Dome on November 21, 2013
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